Recently I attended a Young Energy Delta Convention in Groningen, Netherlands (November 2012). A representative from IEA (International Energy Agency) was presenting the World energy outlook for 2012 and interpreted the slide below.
Figure 1: IEA slide (number 9/17) from World Energy Outlook 2012
The IEA representative pointed out that this high demand of power in countries like China and India are due to growth in population in these countries. Is this view from the IEA correct? What is the problem with this view? What is IEA misrepresenting here?
Let us first ask ourselves a basic question?
1) Why do these countries (India and China) need so much energy?
Popular GUESS made by most of us: These countries are highly populated. Let’s check!
Figure 2: World population in millions (Source: http://www.indexmundi.com/map/
Original Source: (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/)
Ok, so we do not argue that China and India are the most populated countries in the world. But there is negligible statistical data available to show the number of people in India that have access to electricity. (See below)
Figure 3: Access to electricity % of population (Source: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS)
In 2009, a meager 66% of the population of India had access to electricity. What does this mean? It means nearly half of the population is not even using electricity. So where is this energy used? Do we believe that people who cannot afford to have electricity go shopping everyday to buy clothes, mobiles, cars, houses, etc?
Ok I know everyone likes statistics or numbers to back the above statement. So let us see what we have as statistics. It will not be fair to say that India is poor because the government has a lot of money. But it will be fair to say that the majority of Indians do not have money.
Let us see, what the definition of poverty in India is? (See Figure 4)
Figure 4: Definition of Poverty Line per month basis. (Source) Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, India
A person earning more than 6 Euros/MONTH in rural areas and 9 Euros/MONTH in urban areas is considered above poverty line. The number of people above poverty line is always a debate. (See below)
Figure 5: Poverty line numbers per day basis. Source: Guardian, UK
So what is happening here? There is nearly 50 % of the population in India that is below poverty line. Do we still believe that this remaining 50% population of India is using so much energy?
If I ask the same question again, “Why do countries like China and India need so much energy?”
MY GUESS: These countries (India and China) are working for the world like secretaries. Wondering what does this mean?
- Clothes, accessories, shoes, socks
- Biggest raw material like steel, mobile, computer, packaging, spare-part
- Medical equipment, etc are all manufactured in these countries.
The list is very big to mention all and is freely available all over internet to those curious.
If you heard the US presidential candidates debating for the 2012 elections, both the candidates mentioned that they want to bring the manufacturing jobs back to their countries. What does this mean? Most of the manufacturing is done in developing countries like China and India. What does this imply? It implies that the need of people in US/Europe is now satisfied indirectly through developing countries.
The developing countries are importing humongous amounts of energy from Middle East to manufacture goods that are used in Europe and American continent. So who is the end user of this energy, the developed nations or developing nations?
Till now we have only talked about the goods being exported through developing countries. What about services? The call centres based in the developing countries are providing affordable services to the developed nations. The electricity used in the process is also used for the developed nations not for the developing countries.
China and India have recently become very high CO2 emitters in the world. Definitely if it is using so much energy, then they must be emitting CO2 too. But for a moment let us ignore that this energy is used for local use or international goods and services).
But, if we just see the total CO2 emissions, we will definitely draw a conclusion that India and China are emitting the most CO2. But let us see the CO2 emissions per capita i.e. how much CO2 emission is emitted per person in the country?
The statistics below are in metric tons of CO2 per capita. This will give us a clear picture who is overusing the resources and who needs to improve their behaviors?
Figure 6: CO2 emissions in metric tons per capita in US
Figure 7: CO2 emissions in metric tons per capita in CHINA
Figure 8: CO2 emissions in metric tons per capita in INDIA
We already saw in figure 2 that the population difference in US and India/China is many folds.
In 2008 (the peak of economic prosperity in the world), every US person was responsible for nearly 18 metric tons of CO2 emissions and on the other hand, the Chinese person was responsible for 5 metric tons and every Indian was responsible for 1.5 metric tons of CO2 emissions. I am sure many of you experienced eureka moment, after these statistics and can clearly link to why US President Barrack Obama talks about efficient cars in US.
Conclusion: Just because your baby is born through a surrogate mother, does not mean it’s not your baby. Similarly if the energy is used in developing nations for demand of goods and services in developed nations, does not mean developed nations are not responsible for it.
If YOU want to help bring about a change, please sign the petition below that is addressed to most of the decision makers in the world.